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Higher Education Act Updates

Posted On: 2006-01-12Length: 24:37

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Good Thursday, January 12, 2006 the Financial Aid Podcast episode #159. My name is Chris Penn and I welcome you or welcome you back to the show if you are listening for the first time from the Pacific Coast Hellway, or any of the other excellent podcasts out there. Welcome aboard. This show is not nearly as profane as some of the other shows out there. I was listening to a show yesterday and a couple of the songs had a little, well, nothing outrageous, certainly that you haven't heard on prime time television, but I wouldn't let my child listen to prime time television or listen to commercial radio because it's highly devoid of merit. Enough ranting for a Thursday. I'm back in the office and we've got a lot to talk to about. We've got some Higher Education Act stuff, a student loan payoff scam, a scholarships update from our Scholarship Search Secrets e-book, some News You Can Use, and increasing your monthly income and of course Podsafe Music. So let's get started today with the news.

Topping the news today from www.insidehighered.com, questions about the Higher Education Act's renewal. The prospects for its Reauthorization and Renewal are uncertain. The heavy lifting, that is the student loan rates and interest rates and loan limits have all been done and the Budget Reconciliation Act of 2005 mostly procedural stuff on the table. The Budget Reconciliation Act Reauthorization was supposed to go through in 2005, actually it was supposed to go through in 2003, but politicians have been dropping the ball on us pretty consistently since then. Most politicians don't want to tackle this, the Higher Education Act for this year, for one simple reason, this in an election year. There are 435 representatives in the House and 33 senators up for election and basically when it comes to legislation, Higher Education legislation is politically unpopular. For people on the right, in the Republican Party, they see higher education as being, well, if you look at the way the Budget Act turned out, higher education is treated as an unnecessary expense. For people on the left, higher education stuff is unpopular because even though they tend to be more supportive of it, it gives grist for the mill for their opponents to attack them with. Therefore, it's not something they want to focus on. So, the chances of there being a Higher Education Reauthorization Act in 2006 is pretty slim to none and according to some college lobby groups, that suits colleges just fine because at least in recent times, any Higher Education Act that has gone through or any higher education legislation in general, hasn't been beneficial to colleges or students. Certainly the interest rate changes in the Deficit Reduction Act is definitely not beneficial to students. So, for colleges, letting the Higher Education Act lapse or just letting Congress renew it perpetually throughout this year would suit many college interest groups just fine. Really, when you look at the damage Congress has done, it's probably is a good idea to continue with what you've got because you've got the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know.

In other news, there's a discussion on the FinAid list, the mailing list for financial aid administrators and professionals, regarding an interesting contest run by Educational Direct, which is a lending company. In the same sense that, they're a loan consolidation company kind of like the Student Loan Network except they resort to very, very odd little marketing tactics including a guarantee cash prize student loan payoff if you enter their contest. They're calling it the $100,000 Student Loan Payoff Cash Giveaway. Here's what's interesting, the guaranteed payoff if you enter this contest is $1 by PayPal. They will guarantee you will win at least $1 if you enter their contest and qualify. However, in order to qualify you have to have student loans for consolidation. So, if you're just a college student and your in school or out of school and you have loans with just one lender, or you don't have loans anymore-you paid them off, you're not eligible to enter the contest. It's basically a marketing tactic for acquiring new consolidation prospects, as marketing tactics go I guess it's a good one or at least it's good enough that it's working for them. But, are you guys really that desperate that you need to be offering to pay people to consolidate their loans. Let's go to their website. Wow, that's very ugly. This would be why you're having trouble with getting customers, your website's hideous. It's absolutely awful. Whoever your interface designer is, fire them immediately. Hey I dot an idea, why don't you put out a proposal to hire some college graduates and people who have programming skills and have them fix your website. I'm not even going to put a link in the show notes because it's just ugly. I wouldn't want to subject anyone to this. I also love that how, right off the bat they ask for your social security number and their privacy certificate has failed. That's unfortunate. Anyway, if you happen to receive an email from Educational Direct about Guaranteed Student Loan Payoff Contest, I'm not going to say don't use them, well I guess I could of course...Don't use them, but shop around at least and see what's being offered in the student loan market. While you're shopping around make sure to stop by www.studentloanconsolidator.com, you knew I was going to say that, or give us a call here at the office at 877-328-1565. We'll be more then happy to answer your questions even if you don't decide to consolidate with us. We'll let you know what the inside scoop is on student loan consolidation; how it works. If you're a long-time listener of the Financial Aid Podcast you've heard this many, many times before and I'm sorry. But, definitely check it out. We try and put as much good information on our website as possible to make sure you at least get well rounded perspective on financial aid. Well that is the news for today. Let's move on to the Scholarship Update before I rant anymore about our competitors.

What a crappy jingle that is. I can't wait for that new version of Garage Band from Apple. It has a new Podcast version that includes jingles that don't suck because I'm just using little instrument loops, but I digress. Today's scholarship update is a key word search update. If you haven't read our Scholarship Search Secrets e-book which is included in the RSS feed in this podcast, which means you subscribe to it in iTunes and then go to our website at www.financialaidpodcast.com and click on the "Add to My iTunes" button and that gets you subscribed to our feed. That will get you all of the episodes of the Financial Aid Podcast, as many as you want to download, plus our e-book, Scholarship Search Secrets and how to use search engines to find scholarships online without having to weed through billions and billions of results; get you some targeted results and not charge you any money. It is free Financial Aid Podcast subscribers through the RSS feed. Like I said, just make sure you've got he latest copy of iTunes from www.itunes.com, it's free, then go to www.financialaidpodcast.com and click on the "Add to My iTunes" button. That's how you get the e-book. Now today's update is an additional keyword to add to your search. One of the biggest problems when searching for scholarships online, even with targeted keywords you still get a little bit of fluff, advertisement and marketing in your organic search results, which means they are not the paid results, so organic means what the search engine feels is relevant to your question. Of course if you use some search engines, the whole page is ads, but I digress. One of the key words that you can throw into your search phrases to reduce the amount of commercial clutter to help you get to the results is "eligibility". Now we talked a couple of podcasts ago about using the word "deadline". So "eligibility" and "deadline" are two words that are on the actual application pages for scholarships. So, by tossing in those keywords into your search, you'll get much better results. For example, go into Google here, we'll do Boston Scholarships and you get a fair amount of results, 3.3 million results. Some of them are pretty good. Some of them are ok and some not so good, and of course the usual ads. Now let's add in "eligibility" and "deadline". You don't need to add an "and" phrase. Now you've narrowed this down to 145,000 pages and you're also starting to see, the first one here is Emanuel College, The Merit Scholarships $2500 scholarship for Emanual Scholarship. You're starting to see real scholarships. Here's another one, Youth Zone Boston Merit Based Scholarship and you can see the deadline is there for that scholarship as well. The Boston School of Architect Scholarship, the Boston Conservatory Scholarship. So now you've really narrowed the field down by using those two words, "eligibility" and "deadline". They get you real scholarship pages instead of the 3.3 million results not all of which are about scholarships. Some of them are just ads and related stories, press releases and stuff like that. Using "eligibility" and "deadline" in your query you've really narrowed down your search to pages that are really like one click away from the application or maybe they are the application page. You can see that here, the City of Boston Scholarship Fund, the application. The PDF is right there it just comes up right away. You have the application, no messing around with it. That is our key word update. Also, if you haven't checked out our free scholarship search website at www.freescholarshipsearch.com, please do so. It is over $260 million worth of scholarships and if you see something there you can apply for, go for it. There's no registration, no submitting your email address, no giving up any privacy, just check out the site and have a good time with it. And that is today's scholarship update.

Alright let's move onto some News You Can Use. An article in the Christian Science Monitor points out that escaping debt in your 20s and 30s, is getting harder and harder. People are being trapped by debt: school loans, house prices, low wages, and credit that is too easy to obtain is keeping people in their 20s and 30s from making financial headway and achieving financial goals. The article goes on to talk about a lot of the different dimensions of financial management and why generation x and y are really not getting ahead and there are a couple of different reasons, one of which is expenses vastly outpace wage growth. So, things got a lot more expensive but the money you've got coming in each month is not enough to keep up with it. And the second of course is the amount of debt that people take on, whether it's student loans or credit cards or just debt in general, people who are buying fancy cars and fancy houses. Even moderately priced houses if you live in an overpriced market like Boston are still finding themselves behind the financial aid ball. The article goes on to talk a little bit about what you can do to try and remedy the situation. Part of it of course is cutting back on spending, tightening your belts as much as you can. If it's a question of owning or renting, at least for the moment, check your housing market about three tips you can use to determine if you're in an overpriced market and how to determine whether to buy or rent. Cutting your credit card debt to zero, by that you take your credit cards and stick them in the shredder, particular in the next few years with interest rates rising, credit cards are not going to do anything for your finances so just can them as much as possible. Belt tightening is one aspect of the financial picture. The other aspect that the article really doesn't talk about a whole lot and, most of the articles I've been reading about lately don't' talk about this side either is how to bring in more money each month. Some things that you can do if you are employed now is ask for a raise, ask for an increase. Companies wage growth has not been very impressive the last few years and in fact has been pretty depressing to look at, all things considered. So what you need to do is take a look at what skills you have and you can leverage them to take advantage of opportunities and stuff on the side. If you find that you come home for work and just sit in front of the television for 3 or 4 hours, that's time you can be using much better. Either by improving the skills you have by improving your worth to your employer or start doing some free lancing stuff. And here's a secret, if you haven't checked out he Gig section on Craigslist you should. If you live in a major metropolitan area Craigslist is one of the best hidden gems of the internet and one of the best sections of Craigslist is the Gig section. And what's in there is people looking for little bits of free lance work here and there. And we're not talking about huge commitments. For example, in today's Boston Craigslist, we have "Can someone teach me how to use my iPod. Willing to pay a nominal fee plus chocolate chip cookies." Now depending on how much training this person needs, if they're just trying to get started with their iPod and you can charge $25 or $30, hey that's some dinner money and teaching someone how to use their iPod, at least he basics of it, is not too bad. If you're a free lance web designer or graphic designer, or want to become one, that would be a good thing to do because there's a lot of free training online and a lot languages people are asking for like PHP and Pearl, are open source languages so they don't cost any money to download and they don't cost you any money to learn them either, unlike some of the more expensive languages out there. In the Gig section, you'll see a lot of people who are like, I need a little help on this project or a little help on this database, if you build those skills into yourself by taking the time to work on those skills you will have opportunities to bring in a little extra cash here and there. And a lot of times a little extra cash turns into a lot of extra cash depending what your skills are. If you suddenly become an expert in something there is a lot of demand for it. Here's a listing in the computer section. "I need someone to show me how to use Ebay". For a lot of people that sounds silly. How hard is it to use Ebay? Just go to www.ebay.com, but it's not that simple especially if you're looking to sell stuff on Ebay. Like if you're a garage sale addict or a yard sale addict and you've accumulated a ton of stuff Ebay is a great place to get rid of some of it and there are a lot of people jumping on the internet who are not necessarily computer savvy. So here's an opportunity to teach someone how to use Ebay and make a little money on the side. Even if you don't have technical skills, there are tons of other stuff in the Gig Section, there's writing and there are some people who need help with press releases, magazines, travel journalists. Go into the labor section, if you happen to be handy at things...hey, here's an undercover investigator, movers, drivers, licensed plumbers, need commercial drivers, walkers, people to hand out flyers, here's some stuff in the event section, promoting a band, need help at a restaurant and these are gigs, short-term gigs so you are not making a huge commitment. You just have to throw out some interest there and you'll pull in some interesting opportunities. Some of them might be five minute time commitment and you could get $50 out of them. Again, because these aren't long-term commitments there also not long-term high paying jobs, but if your just looking for some extra cash on the side, this is the way to go.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't say that the Student Loan Network, is also hiring. If you have customer service skills and you're looking for a job that pays very well in a work environment that is very intense but very fun. You'll be working some long work hours, especially as consolidation season comes up. But we also have lightsaber battles in the office and free coffee. Check us out, send an email to jobs@edvisors.com with your resume if you live in the Boston Metro area if you live in other areas too but you'd have to move out here because it's an in office job. It's a great place to work, evidence by, it's one of the few corporate podcasts out there that hopefully doesn't suck. They let me dot his and let's me get the word out there. Thanks, Joe! So if you're interested, come on out. We'll be happy to at least interview you and take a look at your resume and if you've got what it takes to succeed in a fast paced, high intelligence workplace, we definitely be interested in talking to you. It's almost turned into a mini jobcast for you. That's going to do it for the News You Can Use Section.

Let's move onto our piece of Podsafe Music for today, We'll Be Alright by Collin Raye sponsored by Aspron Records, I guess they just decided to dump their entire catalog into the Podsafe Music Network. So, let's give it a listen.

(music)

We'll Be Alright by Collin Raye by the Podsafe Music Network at www.music.podshow.com. And that is our Podsafe Music Network for today. I kind of like the new format with just the one piece of Podsafe Music because it let's me talk longer. But it also provides a little more focus. If by the way you are a member of a band and you would like to hear your music on the Financial Aid Podcast, definitely send it to me. The best way is to upload it to the Podsafe Music Network that way other podcasters can grab it as well if they so choose to and play it and get it heard as well. If you've already uploaded it to the Podsafe Music Network, shoot me an email at financialaidpodcast@gmail.com. I'll be more then happy to at least give it a listen and maybe give it a spin on the show. I do request that if you have a blog or a website to at least stick a link up there to the Financial Aid Podcast at www.financialaidpodcast.com

That's going to do it for today's show. It's Thursday morning, it's 7:45 and it's sunny out. A warm day here in Boston, absurdly warm, almost 60 degrees. I have to get the office up and running so if you're not subscribed get subscribed. If you have audio, feedback, comments, questions email me at financialaidpodcast@gmail.com. Until next time, take care.

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